20 October 2010


listening to Billie Holiday, sun is out. Baby is asleep. Osip speaks to my heart through silent typography. 

I don't remember the word I wished to say

 I don’t remember the word I wished to say.
The blind swallow returns to the hall of shadow,
on shorn wings, with the translucent ones to play.
The song of night is sung without memory, though.

No birds. No blossoms on the dried flowers.
The manes of night’s horses are translucent.
An empty boat drifts on the naked river.
Lost among grasshoppers the word’s quiescent.

It swells slowly like a shrine, or a canvas sheet,
hurling itself down, mad, like Antigone,
or falls, now, a dead swallow at our feet.
with a twig of greenness, and a Stygian sympathy.

O, to bring back the diffidence of the intuitive caress,
and the full delight of recognition.
I am so fearful of the sobs of The Muses,
the mist, the bell-sounds, perdition.

Mortal creatures can love and recognise: sound may
pour out, for them, through their fingers, and overflow:
I don’t remember the word I wished to say,
and a fleshless thought returns to the house of shadow.

The translucent one speaks in another guise,
always the swallow, dear one, Antigone....
on the lips the burning of black ice,
and Stygian sounds in the memory.

Osip Mandelstam

Crimea 1944


Fourth Daughter said...

Thanks for following! I love those album cover pics from your post the other day... and that family history about relocating to Siberia sounds fascinating. I still remember a story I read in primary school called The Endless Steppe where a family had to live in Siberia and they unravelled jumpers to use the wool again, wrote in between lines of newspaper articles when they wanted to send letters as they had no paper, etc...

Varchik said...

Sounds very environmentally conscious now doesn't it? It's become cool to be thrifty, even in fashion as you would know!